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Grand Rapids Police accepting reports for some crimes online

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

People can report vandalism, petty theft, and other crimes that are not emergencies or incidents where the victim doesn’t know who did it to the Grand Rapids Police online.

Sergeant Patrick Merrill heads the department’s Technical Services Unit. He says its part of a broader move in the industry to provide more convenient police services to the public. Merrill says sometimes these types of minor crimes go unreported because people don’t want to wait around for an officer when they figure the perpetrator won’t get caught.

“That’s just the nature of the behavior and the enforcement. When you finally catch somebody, they’ve been doing this for a little bit. We want to know where these events are taking place so we can find out who’s responsible. We can see those patterns popping up on us and we can push patrol resources or investigative resources in that direction.”

Some police departments in Michigan that pay a contractor for a similar service. But Grand Rapids Police made their own program to save money and he says it is compatible with the online mapping system they have to tracks crimes by location.

“So when the person at home submits a report, it comes into our system it gets mapped so the person that lives across the street who lives there, who may not have known about the activity can also see it.”

Merrill says having that information could help neighbors prevent similar crimes or help tip off police.

Several other police departments in Michigan are looking into similar programs, including Flint and Ann Arbor.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.